Cycling: Chiappucci fails blood test

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The Independent Online
Claudio Chiappucci, a leading Italian rider, was forced out of the Tour of Romandie yesterday after failing a blood test. His licence has been suspended for 15 days, when he will be re-tested. The suspension means Chiappucci, nicknamed El Diablo, will miss the Giro d'Italia.

International Cycling Union officials tested Chiappucci and several other riders before the 173-kilometre second stage from Le Locle to Estavayer- le-lac in Switzerland.

Blood tests were introduced in January to help combat the use of EPO (erythropoietin) and injectable blood-doping substances that simulate altitude training by increasing oxygen-rich red blood cells. If a rider's level is over 50 per cent, he is suspended.

Chiappucci is the fourth to fail blood tests this season after his fellow Italians, Mauro Santaromita and Luca Colombo, and France's Erwan Mentheour.